tv Authors Discuss Nuclear War CSPAN April 15, 2017 10:45am-12:01pm EDT
they're cautious about taking any risk to help you get your mande and your agenda through. >> watch the cities tour today at noon eastern on c-span twos, book tv. sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on american history to be on c-span three. working with our cable affiliates across the country. >> good afternoon. it is my distinct honor to be the moderator for this presentation today on nuclear war survivors, resisters, andk. current -- and we welcome you on behalf of the virginia foundation of the humanities. they are the producers of the virginia festival of books. we greatly appreciate the hardpr work that goes into to present these gatherings. this is my cell phone, and i am
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discussion. the city of charlottesville we want to thank for providing this venue for today's events. we welcome all of our viewers on c-span and charlottesville's own tv time, during the q&a portion we ask that you please wait for microphone be brought to so you may be recorded. our authors today are, susan, she is the author of nagasaki, life after nuclear war and she was a nonfiction fellow and has published work in the new york times, the los angeles times, nagasaki is the recent recipient of the dayton literary peace prize and the j anthony lukasj. book price. dan zach is the author of
almighty, courage, resistance and a xo's -- his written and is from buffalo, new york and lives in washington, d.c. we have an author who travel to nagasaki, japan five times to interview the subject of her heb book and research her miraculous story of survival in her surviving pathway to peace. she is a longtime teacher, freelance writer and author. karen lives in minneapolis,,we minnesota. we will have some questions and discussion, then after we have completed that we will have questions from the audience.wity our first question for karen, t
what brought you to the subject? how did you get engaged with the stories? >> thank you everyone for coming, and thank you all who are sponsoring this. it is such an important topic to talk about. i'm often asked how did i come to write this book.mi i met -- in my home city in august of 2005. i was at a peace park and it happened to be august 6, 2005 which was the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb, and the and of old or two. >> guest: had been invited to minneapolis from the nagasaki, our sister city.
they were sister cities in 1955 so sachiko was going to tell her story of survival and peace. i met her there. previous to that, i had gone one a tour. i was interested in my father's military experience during world war ii. he never told me much about her anything about his military experience. i went on a bus through germany where the remnants of his company of older men to find his stories. and then i met a man from german on the other side. this was the trip of war, peace, and reconciliation. previous to that i have been in england ten interviewed
providers of the london blitzes and other blitzes during the war of people who were children at that time. i was sitting at that park thinking of war and peace when sachiko stood up. i was thinking about 9/11 and afghanistan, and iraq. i am a writer for children and young adults. i was processing all war and peace issues through that lens as well as my alliance. i was asking myself whether the scars that war leaves on children who face work. how do children find their pathways to peace as adults? how is that possible? as she says to the children, what happened to me must never happened to you. sachiko and i started our work
in 2010. it took me five years to get an up the courage to contact her and write to her. she agreed as long as she said, as long as i can look into your eyes. so i knew i was on a journey to nagasaki. so i started in 2010, the book was published in 2016. here we are in 2017. i started with that story and a reminder of hiroshima and nagasaki. now that story is a warning, the drumbeat of events continue. so that is how i came to that. >> susan, how did you become engaged with nagasaki and the surprise main survivors in your book? >> my connection with nagasaki goes back a long way.
i lived in japan in high school as an international exchange student and lived with the japanese host family and went to a very strict japanese girl school. as part of that year, the senior class invited me to go on their weeklong field trip to the southernmost main island of japan, that is where nagasaki is. and so i went there, i had not learnt anything about specific work septa had a generalized understanding of what had happened at pearl harbor. i had not learned about the atomic bombs in my high school in the united states. i stood arm in arm as japanese schoolgirl stood at the time with my classmates and stared at these photographs and artifacts of horror, of injury, radiation,
melted skin, and it made a very big impact on me. we fast-forward a number of years. in 1986 i was living in washington, d.c. and went to hear someone speak. one of the characters in my book was 16 at the time of the bomb. he was 57 when i met him. by strange series of circumstances i became his interpreter for the last two days of his time in d.c. and i got hours and hours of one-on-one intimate time with him. i was kind of a chaperone to drive him around to end spend time with him in between speaking engagements. i didn't know it at the time, but that was the start of the book. i went to nagasaki to visit in the next year and meet other survivors. i did i begin the book for another 16 years.
i had pressing questions in my mind about what it would be like to enter the later part of one's life having had nuclear war split to one's life in half. that is what took me to the initial reconnection to nagasaki and to start the book. >> dan, you have written a great book about the development of nuclear weapons and all of the implications that led to. how did you become engaged in that subject? >> i am a general assignment reporter for the post. that means i spent my working life not specializing in any particular topic or beats. i parachute into different topics and try to engage them from a layman's perspective and then write authoritatively about them for the general reader.
i was born in 1983. i was born in two oh oh world obsessed with nuclear weapons but i became engaged in a world that forgotten about that. so the possibility of nuclear war and weapon tree and what nuclear weapons to was almost nonexistent. you learn about hiroshima and nagasaki in grade school and high school history class. you learned it was terrible but it ended world war ii and then you move on. so, that is who i was when a colleague of mine who used to cover national security, her name is dan a priest. she was working on a series of stories of how the u.s. nuclear arsenal was aging and needed to be refurbished or replaced. while working on it, three-piece activist in the middle of the night, almost four or five years ago broke into a nuclear weapons plant in east tennessee. a plant referred to as the fort
acts of uranium. she thought this deserve to be written about. it was not quite different than what she was doing but she thought may be a future writer could take a right at. i was that feature writer that it wound up to in the post. one of those activists was at the time an 82-year-old catholic non. as the product of 12 years of catholic school and someone who is used to nuns who were very much rule abiding in rule enforcing here that she had you spoke covers a broken mutual high-level deals own territory government property, i set up and said, oh. i thought i would write a short piece of how weird it was that they broke into this facility. because i lack the contextual knowledge i had to get the knowledge to write responsibly about it. as soon as i started to research what the activists were, why
they were doing what they were doing and why they risked their life and the lives of others to break into this facility as soon as i learned about what it does and will do in the future that this is a larger more complicated story than me. so i wrote a long story for the post that i expanded into this book which is placing these activists and what they did in context of history, present and future in regards to the u.s. a nuclear weapons. it was a complete happenstance that yielded deep fascination on my part and has taken over the last five years of my life. here we are. >> dan, your book begins in manhattan. could you come in just a few words tell us how the u.s. it got from manhattan to august 9,
1945 and nagasaki? >> my book is so broad it's ridiculous. it starts in 1927 and goes up to 2015. the 70th anniversary of your shame and nagasaki. in between i take the store everywhere, nigeria, the marshall islands, the deserts, nevada washington, japan. the reason i started manhattan is too full. that is where the brain of the manhattan project began. it's called the manhattan project for a reason. the other is because one of my main characters, one of the three activists who broke into the facility on the back of the book, the none in question, her name is sister megan wright said she was born in manhattan in 1930. she grew up in the depression and she grew up alongside the birth of the manhattan project. she grew up two blocks for columbia university.
she lived across the hall of a biophysics who was privy to what was going on at the time. at this time academics from columbia would walk home to her apartment building where she lived smudged with graphite looking like coal miners. so, she was a young girl who grew up in the environment where she sent something was going on. her parents were talking to her across the hall neighbor. there is a secret thing happening nearby. it turned out it was people working on the manhattan project. she seemed like the right avatar to explore this really start in the american relationship to the bomb. the reason my story gets to nagasaki is that sister megan's uncle, walter was deployed with
the active pine forces after the bomb was dropped. he saw nagasaki in ruin. he came back a changed man. sister me again, at that time so that her uncle had changed. she describes that he had the terrible weight of knowing on his shoulders. she drew the direct line seen her uncle in 2012 breaking into this nuclear weapons facility in east, tennessee. that's why start of the story this way. it is uncle walter that brought me there conceptually at least. >> karen, when the bomb dropped on august 9, 1945, what happened with sachiko? >> i want to step back and remind people that she has spent her whole life in war.
before the bombing. the rationing is almost at starvation. people are eating two cups of rice per person per month. the embargo of the allies has made -- had brought japan to its knees, and so living is very, very difficult, and raising children is very difficult. on august 9th, they had not heard of the news of hiroshima. the communication had been knocked out. but -- they had nat heard of the soviet invasion of manchuria, the soviets were on their way to invade japan. that certainly was on the radar of the government japan. that hat been agreed on in the yalta conference in february 1945. so there was a lot of confusion going on, on august 9th, 1945.
when box star was coming -- was flying over and was going to bomb the city of kokora but the cloud cover was so dense that that's next city on the list was nagasaki. that was not the main target. as the plane is on the way, sachiko, they have an early morning air raid. air raids go an all the time. all the schools are closed. her family runs to the air raid shelter, which is a cave, most of the cav, dugout caves, were the air raid shelters and her family -- she has four siblings, three brothers, a 14-year-old brother, 12-year-old brother, and two-year-old brother, and a four-year-old sister. her dad is visiting someone, friend, in -- around the --
closer to the city. she is is out in a densely settled part of the -- outside the main city of nagasaki, close to the medical center, and the cathedral, the largest cathedral,, in asia. they take cover. then there's a all-clear and they go off and 14-year-old brother goes back to the house to listen to the radio, takes his four-year-old sister, 12-year-old brother, is off to catch cicadas. the mother and little toshi go off to find the hen who has not laid the egg yet, and sachiko finds her friends and they're playing outside, playing house elm she is making dirt dumplings
when at 11:00, the oldest friend hears the engine of the b-29, the box car. the kids know all the engine sounds and she screams out, enemy plane, and all the kids fall on the ground with their thumbs in their ears and their hands over their eyes as they had been taught, and at that point, at 11:02 the second atomic bomb in human history detonates with a equivalent of 21,000 tons of tnt. sachiko is 900 immediaters -- meters away. a half mile. very few people survived that close. she is covered with rubble, which saved her. saves her from the intense radiation, saves her from the flying debris. glass is flying like bullets
because over force of the wind and shock waves, among other things. her two-year-old brother, toshi, dies on impact. the flying debris, he -- gets a stick through his head. fortunately her uncle comes and pulls her out by her ankles before she suffocates. she is lucky because her friends do not survive. i want to read just a little bit about -- one question is, what happened on august 9th. the family gathers, miraculous hill the father comes back and finds his wife, the mother, the three boys -- rather, the two boys and the sister, misa, and
they miraculously have survived for the time being. they live in -- they take shelter in a cemetery. international cemetery. before they figure out what to do next. the father hears there is a rescue train taking survivors outside the nagasaki, and they are going to walk through the atomic -- the ashes of their city, and i would like to -- if i may, just a little tiny bit of this so you can hear the intimacy of the story. i think one thing that i've been told is that there is such an intimacy with the telling of the story that it brings us right into the shoes of the people who survived, particularly sachiko.
here we go. think if you're a parent trying to bring your children how to such a scene. all during the night sachiko sat in her cemetery hole, he throat dry, lips cracked, listening to voices crying for water. water, water, please. sachiko, father bent over her, touching her shoulder. it's time to go. follow me. remember, never lose sight of me. do you understand? sachiko held mother's hand. misa clung to power's back. aki walked with father. the station and the rescue train were nearly three miles away. aye chir0 struggled to keep up. he could not stop vomiting. aki was the pain, his shoulder so badly burned he could hardly walk.
father bent over and eased his son on to best back. sachiko tightened her hand around mothers a warm finger, mother followed father in a transplantation one foot in front of the other. everywhere, everything was burned, bent, mangled, destroyed, factories, homes, school, shrines, temps. in the dark, telephone wires hung low, uprooted trees. in the distance their roots liked like splintered broomstick: one step, another stand. a chico walked on through hot ash. her arm over her nose, trying for not to gag. fires raged in the air filled with the stench of burn bodies. flames lit up outlines of horses charred him lumps of coal. i'm body lay in the road like stones, some dead, some alive. ashes burned sachiko's bare feet. far bent down to grab strips of
clock on the background. flown from dim moan mows, shirts, pants, he stopped, eased aki off his back and stooped next to sachiko, winding cloth on her feet. water, water, please. despite votes, desperate voices whispered i can't bear it anymore. kill me. kill me. sachiko stumbled. her foot hit something hard. no soft. a body. two bodies. a mother, and a baby, burned. sachiko could not move. sachiko, father's voice broke through her fear. sachiko, think nothing. ingnothing. just follow me. >> susan, your book focuses on
five main characters with a host of others. and they were in different parts of the city. what happened to them on august 9th the months following. >> that's about the first third of the book. so, i'll tell you just a little bit about what happened, and like caren said, it's really very, very difficult to grasp for any of us what it could be possibly like for instant obviously one city, community, and family, to disappear. without warning and without understanding of what had just happened. mr. tamaguchi -- all survivors in my book, the main survivors are teenagers at the time of the bombing, ages 13 to 18, and hold was sister meg? >> at the time, 15. >> yaw.
i was interested that cross continents they're the same age. mr. tanaghchi, 16, postal delivery boy and was riding his bicycle in the hills in the northwest corner of the city, about just over a mile from the hype ocenter, and he -- his back was facing the bomb, and when the super brilliant light flashed into the sky, and then the blast force and heat summered up from behind him, blew him off his bicycle and the clung to the shaking ground. the earth was trembling, and he didn't know that his -- at that time that his back was burned off. mr. yoshita was 13 at the time, and had escaped to the hills because the air raid shelter at
his school was already filled that morning and was walking back into the valley to go back to school. he was just about a half mile away as well. he was facing the bomb. he saw the parachutes that came down. it's hard to say today. that accompanied the bombs to measure the blast force, heat and radiation, and send data back to the planes, and looked up and said to his six friends who he was with, look, falling umbrellas. he thought it might be a soldierment soldiers coming done. i mean -- and he was blown backward 130 feet, across a road, a field, and he landed in a shallow puddle of -- a shallow filled rice paddy on his back.
he said it felt like he was dried grilled squid. curled up also he was being hurled back, and his entire face and body were burned, and he remained disfigured the rest of his life, and i tell you one other just as a little moment. mrs. nagano was 16 at the time of the bombing, and she was further out. she was working in an airplane parts factory over the hills in another part of the city and was protected from the last and radiation to a large degree, but even there it was about two miles out, the factory shook. it was in a gymnasium of a school, and it shook, and she fell -- she was forced to the ground and when she was regained consciousness her mouth was filled with dust and glass slivers. somebody yelled at her that the
bomb had dropped over the valley, which is where her home was and she raced out and 45 minutes later was finally able to turn the corner of the mountains and see the valley, which no longer existed. and she stood there, searching for some defining building or road or anything to try to figure out where her house had been, and she couldn't. and the flames were beginning to rise. now, that's just in the first -- that's not even in the first hour. so, i'm not telling you as you asked the next few months, but maybe we can get to that or maybe not. >> come back to that. >> thank you. >> now, dan in addition to sister megan, there were two
other casualties who formed -- characters who form third invasion force going to heart of the highly enriched urainum uranium facility. >> yeah. the book kind of describes what -- how they get to being all together that night in the summer of 2012 to break into this facility. this facility in east tennessee is where we keep our highly enriched uranium that is not in a warhead somewhere. the greatest stockpile of fissile material. these senior citizens got up to it no problem. the reason they got together i the story of the bookment sister megan who has a child experience with secrecy and her uncle walter. teaches in africa, and her retirement instead of enjoying it she decides to break into a nuclear weapon facility. michael wally, on the left on
the back of the book, is from a large catholic family in michigan. a kind of a wayward soul when he was younger but decided for some structure in his life to enlist into the vietnam war. he was deployed twice. he saw combat, saw terrible things in program and he is essentially -- my interpretation -- spent the balance of his life trying to atone for what the viewed as participation in war crimes. he is very devout and he is very single-mindedly focused on the issue of nuclear weapons, and greg, the guy on the right, is likely younger than michael and by the time he was ready to ine enlist the vietnam was war over but the joined the army anyway, around 1980, just as reagan is coming into office and we have an arms buildup. part of this training was to be a responding force in the aftermath of a nuclear
detonation, and so he was trained -- put on gas masks and told to march toward whatever explosion hat happened to be part of the military -- u.s. military forces that were coming into the situation, and at the same time he was studying the bible and going to summer seminars with daniel berrigan. berrigan was teaching summer seminaries at loyola in new orleans, and we was pretending to march into nuclear devastation and was hearing from daniel berrigan. and the berrigan brothers and six others who first started this type of activist action, which is called a plow shares action. a strain of civil resistance, not only catholics but tuned kind of started with the berrigans and this command from the book of isaiah. swored to plow shares and they
said let's do that. let's really break into the weapon faze silts and begin the work of disamment. that was in 1980. this is the most recent bun in 2012 and there have been dozens in between and they involve breaking the supposedly hypersecure weapon facilities with little hammers and spray paint and human blood and starting to chip away the buildings or the weapons. and greg was exposed to that with daniel berrigan in louisiana, and so because of those forces in these these people's lives they connected, all looking to do another plow share action in 2012. and they were the ones that kind of -- their schedules lined up, willingness lined up, courage lined up and the three of. the decided to pick this site in east tennessee and said we'll do this together. so, it's kind of amazing to hear about the story of human beings
who were directly affected by these bombs, and then hear about the story -- know about the story about human beings who were nowhere near these bombs, but because of the reverberations from them, have decided to act. i just very moved hearing the stories from you two and then thinking about human americans, people on the other side of the world who said, because of this, because of this reverberation i'm going to do this. so that's kind of hough -- how they all got together. >> now, caren, with sachiko, what happened in the months and years following to her as an atom bomb survivor and there's a japanese word that describes that group of people. >> yes. it was continueol struggle as a
child and young person to go up as a survivor, in japan, as japan was being rebuilt. there was a lot of -- and susan, i bet you came across this, too -- a lot of, what would you and what do you forget? a lot of tangling of emotions and a lot of loss. sachiko lost her younger brother at two on impact of the bomb. two weeks later her older brother, 14-year-old brother, aki, and her 12-year-old brother, chioo, die of severe burns and radiation sickness. she, too, is also suffering from that as well. as we go forward, misa, he little sister, who was four, do is of leukemia at 13, and
leukemia is on the rise at this point as we good forward. some maybe know the story of the paper cranes in hiroshima. she dies of leukemia. when a kikko is about 20 her father dies of stomach cancer, the cancers are on the rise and on the march, and at that opinion her mother turns to her and says, now you must be father. she had to take over the home and provide the leadership, but right after that, she is feeling sluggish, feeling tired, she goes to the doctor and she, too, is diagnosed but with thyroid cancer, which, again, is on the rise for young -- for the children who have been exposed to high radiation. thyroid cancer is very common.
i'm going to step back and flashback to -- she does have surgery. when she wakes up for surgery, actually double surgery -- she cannot speak. she has lost her voice, and to me this is a turning point in the story. she asked, who am i without a voice? now, we had to flash back to october 1948 because this is a surprising part of the story. hellen keller comps -- comes to japan, her second visit to japan. 1948 she is traveling all through japan, and she really is speaking to people to give them hope, courage determination, find resilience. she is speaking with her own voice even though she is deaf and blind. she comes to -- she goes to hiroshima and goes to nagasaki. 5,000 people meet her the
nagasaki train station and that this point chico is nine years old and the remembers helen keller so when the solutions her voice, at 20, she says, that image of helen keller comes back to her and she worked very hard to get her voice back, and when she does, it's a turning point of what will i use my voice for? another surprising part of her story in change is that she begins reading gandhi. her father was reading gandhi during the war, and actually was studying english during the war, which was against the law. she begins to read gandhi, and then this is in the '60s and martin luther king comes -- steps out on the world stage, more and more, and she pays attention to king and his message of nonviolent civil
disobedience and the makes a connection between the two peace leader. she knows his "i have a dream" speech. the is looking the civil rights movement and is what i found surprising, connecting with the african-american children fighting for their own civil rights because she knows poverty. she knows discrimination, had been discriminated in japan. a double victimization, do you want to hire someone who may get sick and have cancer? do you want to marry, have your daughter or son marry someone who may be sick or birth defects? you do not want to talk about the fact fat you are survivor. so i was fascinated by her view of martin luther king and his
permeance on the world stage from the other side of the world. i think those lines of his -- i'll -- when he says our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter, really stuck with her. she would soon find her voice and use it but not quite yet. >> susan, each of the five characters that are the main ones in your book, suffered enormous physical and mental change, scarring, from this bomb. relate some of those. >> because we're getting close on time, let me just tell you one. i tell you, mr. tanaguy h i, the 16-year-old boy whose back was burned off. just so you can picture him a little bit.
he had a very young face. he looked maybe 12. and so he was carried to a factory inside -- built into a mountain where -- then he was carried -- people were scared that another bomb might be dropped so someone carried him to a hillside because they didn't want to be trapped inside the mountain factory. it's like a tunnel factory. and his grandfather searched for him for three days so he lay there, face down, with his back burned off, for three nights, three days and three nights until he was found, and there's no medical care. that's one thing that is important to know. the idea of even now of civil defense is really an absurd one.
so he was treated with machine oil mixed with newspaper ash on his back for months, and finally in november was taken up to the naval hospital, 22 miles north of the city, and he was hospitalized for three years and four months, i think. he lay on his stomach, begging to die until eventually -- no one expected him to live, and he was eventually able to move his legs, eventually be able to sit, eventually be able to stand and then walk, and he remained the rest of his life in extreme pain at all times because of the scar tissue on his back. and just as a note, because of the activism thing, he was one of the youngest activists in nagasaki. he didn't could back there until
'49, and in '55 the first national conference -- peace conference happened in hiroshima and then in '56 they gathered in nagasaki, and he was so inspired by a few other survivors telling their stories he decided to begin to tell his story. there were very, very, very few people. most people kept their identities secret their whole lives, even from their spouses and their children. >> the three people go to oak ridge, tennessee. describe what they did and how people responded to that. >> yeah. it was the middle of the night in july of 2012 and they were dropped off and they essentially hiked a wooded ridge for about a mile, up and down into this valley, where this site is that has highly enriched uranium and
nuclear weapons parts. they cut through four fences and three of which were alarmed. they set off a whole bunch of alarms doing this. this site at the time had a thousand plus false alarms every day so the security apparatus was conditioned to ignore alarms, and it so happened the camera that was supposed to be trained on the section of the territory where they were intruding had been out of mission for months. they would say this is the providence of god. and it might be. but nevertheless all these kind of security glitches align so they were essentially able to walk in up impeded. ie just -- unimpeded and cut through fences and they spray painted biblical messages on the storage building and this area around the facility is lethal forces authorized.
they could have been shot dead on sight and that would have been okay. but they got there. they had time. they spray-painted biblical messages. they sprinkled human blood on the storage facility and then waited to be arrested. that was the only part of the plan that didn't go according to plan. part of the plan was to get arrested and cause a public stir and they had to wait for that to happen. they were eventually arrested, one secured guard who is a, which in the story any secured guard who responded to the scene. they were arrested and charged, eventually with intending to endanger the national defense, which is a very serious charge, carrying up to 20 years in prison and it's rarely leveled again civilians. these people were charged with that and there's a whole chaptee about their trial which to me is the most interesting part of the
book because the nature of theok charge, intent, the intent to endanger the national defense. the trial became about what thy dade weather they did. they admitted to their actions but plead it not guilty because they believe thad weeing a act neglect service of preventing a higher crime, the manufacturing and maintenance of weapons of mass destruction. so the trial for me was the real interesting part, and of course the range of reaction was all over the place. oak ridge is very much a company town. with the department of energy and the private contractors. been in the business of nuclear weapons since 1942. the village was created out of thin air to enreich uranium temperature the manhattan project. so reaction ranged from outrage and indig nation and these people are reckless and endangered other peoples liveskl and we need these went because's they promote the greater peace, to congressmen in capitol hill during hearings saying -- asking sister megan to stand and sayini thank you for exposing
weaknesses in our security, ma'am. so the reaction has been all over the place but they were put on trial and convicted and sent to prison. and that's the whole kind of part of the book which i find the most fascinating part but a, you watch the american justice system grapple with these very old questions. in fact this is the last thing i'll say. one of the u.s. attorneys who was cross examining one of the activists started the cross-examination -- questioning a site event saying what event ended world war ii. in 2013 they were re-litigating how world war ii ended, wife and how we dropped these bombs on japan ask that was a fascinating thing to watch, because still in a court of law in public court, lawyers, u.s. attorneys, were bringing up this thing to kind of draw a connection betweeng these weapons and our greater security, or as these activistsy
would say, our greater insecurity. >> caren, you mentioned thatme kazoo -- that sachiko lost her voice and very found her voice. what did that lead to? >> when sachiko was asked to speak about her story, she -- in public, she always declined. she stayed away from that that invitation, until her mother died of of leukemia. her mother died in 1992. even though she was close to her mother, the death of her mother released her from holding back on her story. i think she felt very much of an obligation because she was the
survivor, the last surviving member of her family who hadad witnessed the atomic bomb.wi so in 1995, this is the 50th 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, and ended world war ii. she was invited to speak to children about her experience and that time, 1995, she said yes. in the 50th anniversary was very controversial, still -- the topic is still very controversial. the world was trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th anniversary. it was -- there was a lot of -- how other do you tell the h stories. the smithsonian was going toin have a full exhibition and retrospect on the 50th 50th anniversary with questions about how and why the u.s. decided to drop the bomb, good thing, not, the veterans
stories. such an uproar and eventually the budget was scrapped and so was the whole exhibition. it was a disaster and the only thing left in the smith sonyanoa smithsonian was the fuselage of the enola gay, and sachiko tells he story and in the interest of time, she really says how-we going to take care or our peace? how are we going to do that? the last -- when i finishednusci manuscript and i wrote to her and said do you have any last words for us before the book goes off to press? 2014? she said yes.
my last advice to the audience, our young adults, our children, ask them, what is peace? what kind of person do i want to become? continue to pursue these questions. so, she is -- she knows that we need to leap to -- we need to go to peace however we rehash the war, what are we going to do now and go forward? and i think about those questions every day. sachiko and her story has completely changed my life.li >> susan, five people in your story also make a transition to the -- some at different ages find their voice and then the gather -- then they gather together and nagasaki becomes a
center to suppress their voice. >> it's unusual in any given time from the '7s so and '8s so on might be a cadre of only 40 survivors who are speaking out and telling the story. it's not part of the culture, not part of thatten racing's -- that generation's culture in particular, and each survivor have very deep, personal, intimate decisions for making the decision to speak out. i tell you one and it's one of my favorite stories in the book. mr. yoshito, the 13-year-old boy who was hurled back and his whole face very severely burned and he remained really, really disfigured the rest of his life and faced discrimination and a great deal of shame, and it wasn't until he was in his 60s was invited also to speak out every so often, and he didn't. he wouldn't. he didn't want to face the
stares of the children. but he got asked bay friend who already was a speaker, to substitute for him one day, and he got up in front of the group and some of the children began to cry as they saw his face, and he almost collapsed in tears himself. he forged through his story, and made it through, but kind of retreated into silence for quite a while, but eventually decided to not let his shyness get in the way of speak ought foror peace. and -- speaking out for peace. now he -- or toward the end of the book, when he speaks in front of children, he brags that now 9.5 out of ten childrenn don't cry when they see his face, and he -- to disarm them the beginning of his talk, he compares himself to the good looks of a japanese pop star
from the '90s who is no longer relevant to the children today, but they kind of get the reference and they laugh and run of the staff with the organization for which he speaks suggested that he update the person he compares himself to and he never would, except once when he was speaking in chicago. he likened his incredible good looks to those of leonardo di caprio and made everybody laugh. he is one of the sweetest human beings i've ever met. so, i'll leave it for those whoo are able to read the back toar understand the other stories of hough they -- hough they came to speak publicly about their lives.ve >> now i'll give each of you an impossible task in a minute or two.
what do these stories mean for us now? susan do you want to start? s >> i have long list. these stories matter because we live under a high level of nuclear threat today, whether by intentional use, accidental use or an act of terror. we are at one of the highest levels of risk in human -- since 1945. the doomsday clock -- just moved to two and a half minutes before midnight. in january, i think as long as these weapons exist across the world, we still have some 15,000 and 4,000 of them are deployed. we have -- -- we have to mam what they can do and thesemb survivors are the only people who can tell us that even though the penn weapons far moreer powerful now, and i'll leave the
others and you say them and maybe i can come back the end. >> caren. >> i also have a long list but i remind us that the average age of in the survivors is about sachiko's age, 78, 80. we're fast losing our eye witness spokespeople for this cataclysmic event. so that is one reason i wanted to write sachiko's story, particularly for young people so that we can keep the stories in front of us because of we are now so close to nuclear warnu again. we know we have north korea and other obvious issues and incidents that we feel the heat again. i would say sachiko's questions
how to keep the appeals and for the children, how do we teach peace? we do a great job teaching war. a great job creating a culture of war how do we create a culture of peace in our countryr and in the world? >> i think those are great thoughts, and to avoid repeating them, which i would like to do,'ll just say something a little more cosmic, which is something that sister megan said to me back in i think early 2013 when she -- before she was on trial. she was still free. she and her two come patriots, michael and greg, were at a college event, talking about why did -- what they did to a shoup group of college students and they're were all mingling before hand me and tapped my shoulder
and said -- i was kind of wondering, what are they doing talking to 15 college students about the -- i don't know. don't know what we were talking about. she kind of pointed to them and said each one hover -- each one of these young people who -- at the time 20 years old, 19 years -- knows five other people they might talk about this to, and she said to me, the quantum theory of physics affects all people. and as soon as she said that it thought, oh.as as a writer, that's very writerly thing to say. and that's when i decided this story that i would write aboutd this would be about -- would take kind of the scientific principles that make nuclear weapons work which is taking the tiniest building blocks of eight, atoms and create a dis proportionately large affect out of them to activists, a single
people or three people who decide to act and there are consequences out of proportion to who they are, and i think that that's something that everyone can and should remember, that there are issues in modern life, such as nuclear weapons that seem insurgentable, din surmountable but seem opaque but these three activists prove that individual actions, no matter how small, can have greater effect. what they did is this reason i'm sitting here and there's a book. you never know what you do in the service of something that will have an impact on others and who knows at some point that might reach a critical point where things change. >> now we have a couple of minutes left. enough questions you would like to raise? make sure you have the mic. >> two brief.
>> yeah, do. >> two brief things. you talk about this, too. the enola gay exhibit, the refusal to talk about our history, but my other question is for mr. zak. the very beginning of your bookn i was very depressed when youu talk about how the scientists said they worried about these weapons being under the control of people in the military, and then when they took it away from the military they worried about it being under the control of politicians who maybe didn't know anything about the sciencee and now we have a person in the white house who says -- who was asked if we have nuclear weapons, why can't we use them? so what can we do and as a journalist, how can you bring this to the forefront of the attention. >> yeah.
the only thing i can do myself is to write a story like this, which attempts to put in very human and understandable terms a topic that is abstract and veryy technical. that's all i can think to do. t in terms 0 of what people can do in general, you know, it's -- one of the good things about this presidential campaign is for the first time that i can remember in the context of debate, we -- the americans were talking about the nuclear weapons we have in and not the nuclear weapons that don't yet exist in iran. so think what was the sea change. this presidential campaign kind of forced the american public to ask themselves, what this foundational authority that we are investing in a president of the united states? the core of all of that power is the power to end the world. the nuclear stockpile is the province of the u.s. president. he or she has the ultimate final
authority on when and if to use them. and i think it was good that we all kind of reminded ourselves about that because of the nature of one of the candidates who was running. as far as what a citizen could do, if i had a plan or if i enough exactly what could be done i would be on my way to nobel peace prize. don't know what one can do other than to become educated and to keep this topic in forefront of one's mine because it's easy to ignore for several reasons. one is dish it's so important that the survivorsors and people like caren and susan are talking and tell the stories. there haven't been mushroom clouds on the planet since 1962 and all the tests have been underground and so -- of course there hasn't been a combat use since 1945. and so slowly we're kind of
forgetting the real world impact of what these can do and soom do -- always keep that in front of your mind, that beyond the jar -- jargon, treaty jar grandchildren, budget dear stuff, so many way that nucleara weapons beck buried under the opaque talking of budgets and treaties and these books remind you of what is at stake. so i think becoming educated and then being vocal to your elected officials who this person who dealings with budgets. it's all about money. life is about money. the nuclear weapons are no different and as bob was saying, we have seen what vocal constituents can do at this time to congress. i know there's a lot to think about for a variety of reasons and nuclear weapons take a back seat, but education and awareness is the only answer, ik
think. >> hello. this is not question but just an expression of gratitude to you. my mother, and myself, were born in japan. my father is 93. she is a world war ii survivor. she was in the southernmost part where first experience the entire destruction of her city, but a as japanese, and of course we are american citizens now -- this is a subject we don't talk about amongst ourselves so mucho it is a very painful subject, se and i decided to bring her today and i really was wondering whether i should bring her to remind her of the pay and so ona but i'm very happy i came and i
wanted to thank you and just share that she was 18 when the war started. and 22 when it finished. and he wrote a -- she is a ph.d from ported portland state university in oregon and she wrote a dissertation about p peace and how to find peace.re is it okay if a read a paragraph? and i want to honor her and just to how even in most devastated in the -- that human beings and civilians can come back to live a joyful, peaceful life, and in a way, there is a testimony to how entire human nature with all the other groups of people who suffered in so many different ways we continue on and do find peace. p so she said, i cannot forget mys shock when i heard that my
country, japan, had attacked pearl harbor. it was 1941, and i was 18 at the time. four years later, the united states dropped atomic bombs. to me it was beyond nations fighting with each other. i felt deep shame to be a part of the human race. war has brought an unimaginable devastation and as adversitied around the world. in my own heart arose the question, how can we human beings be so violent toward each other and bring such horrific disdestruction upon ourself. from now on for the rest of my life i must live and work ford peace and at 22, she wanted to become a doctor, but due to war she could not. she began to just live her life the way she could and survive.
she found beauty in life through painting, and so she really delved into painting and worked with mentally challenged people in america.. she married an american, by the way, and came to america to live. and so she has found her peace individually within and through that so many people come to her and enjoy that vibration of peace and get the encouragement and joy to move on. thank you so much,. [applause] >> we have time for one more question.we h >> this gentleman here has been raising his hand. >> i have a question for dan. as you got to know the three tht
protesters, can you describe what effect they brought -- they thought that act would have? create more awareness in the united states? would it trigger similar activism around the world? because done in isolation -- tapping on a building with a hammer and throwing some blood in isolation that's not going to get much done. what was their bigger expectation, plan, hope, for within the united states and around the world, given that the united states is not a nuclear nation in isolation, as other people have mentioned, there's a world situation. >> yeah. their main goal was always awareness, to do something -- this is me as a journalist coming in and assessing and articulating why they did it. always to do something -- apart from stating for the record they as individuals are not onboard as citizens with this type of work, to do something that would
get headlines essentially. that would wake people up from the kind of the normal day-to-day life and awarenesse and take note, which is what happened to me. admit this in the afterword. i'm part of their plan. they did something that wag strength enough and outrageous enough that got to know sit up and say, what did these people do? and then take a step further and look into that. so i -- if you were to ask them what they were hoping for, they're hoping for the u.s. to irrespective of the rest of the world, disarm. it's not realistic. but there's a reason why i called the original story for the post that this book is based on "the prophets of oak ridge." these are -- these type of activ activists to me you can call the crazy and misguided and reckless, true. there's also a prophetic element to them because they're doing
something that prophets have always done which is speak the language and the rationale of a world that doesn't exist yet. right? which to all of us sounds crazy. so, if you were to kim that's what they would say, world without nuclear weapons. the u.s. should get rid of them and devote all that mother and treasure to life-sustaining, life-giving enterprises. but my interpretation has always been awareness. that's the reason that makes sense to me. this action apart from being a moral one on their -- in their mind is also an attention-grabbing one, and it may not change the world overnight but as i said before,, it got to know write a book, and i'm talking to all of you about the book. and some of you might read it. don't know. think they would be satisfiednk even with that. but they were acting very much as individuals, too. as individuals speaking for
them, we cannot not do this. so that's where they're coming from.an >> so we want to leave some time so that you can meet the authors and have them sign your copies of the book. as i read these three books, ons of the thing that struck me most profoundly was that these people that they're describing, the temperatures their telling are people with names. and every human being has a name. they have parents. they have siblings and friends. and when we begin to see each other as a named person, then are our revulsion the thought of imposing on anyone the destruction that was wrought on that day becomes more profound. i want to thank our three authors for the outstanding becomes and presentations today. [applause]
>> i also want to thank you for coming here today and i urge you to fill out your evaluation form and come on up. there will be books for sale and you can get them signed by the authors. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> this is booktv, on c-span2. television for serious readers. here's our primetime lineup: